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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thursday Art Events -- On Campus and Off

There are two dueling art events this Thursday (I hate when that happens). On campus, at the Tahoe Gallery, there's the opening reception for Todd McDonald's show:

Residual Feedback
Todd McDonald
Show runs February 25 - March 26, 2010

Opening Reception: Feb 25 - 5-7pm
Artist Lecture: Feb 25 - 5:15pm
Prim Library Rm 320

RSVP on facebook here:

Or, if you're closer to Carson City this Thursday, Joseph Delappe is giving a talk sponsored by CCAI (press release info below):

Electronic Vistas
Talk by Joseph DeLappe
[CCAI Nevada Neighbors Lecture Series at Carson City Library]

"Nevada Neighbors," Capital City Arts Initiative's ongoing series of presentations on contemporary art, returns in this month with "Electronic Vistas" a talk by artist Joseph DeLappe on Thursday, February 25 at the Carson City Library at 7:00 p.m. Preceding his talk, there will be an informal reception for Mr. DeLappe at the library at 6:15 p.m.

Joseph DeLappe is an Associate Professor of the Department of Art at the University of Nevada where he directs the Digital Media program. Working with electronic and New Media since 1983, his work in online gaming performance and electro-mechanical installation have been shown throughout the United States and abroad, including exhibitions and performances in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Peru, China and the Netherlands.

Mr. DeLappe created and directs the "" project, an ongoing call for artists to create proposals for memorials to the many thousands of civilian casualties in the Iraq war. ("" is presently being featured at the Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery at UNR through March 12, 2010.)

Mr. DeLappe will present documentation of his recent projects and discuss them as durational works of experimental online and real world performance.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Local Event: Cartune Xprez, Friday Feb. 26

This Friday, "Cartune Xprez" is coming to Reno -- hosted by GASA and the Holland Project. The CX folks have put out two DVDs featuring a diverse set of contemporary animation -- the fact that they're coming to town with a screening and live show has really made my day.

You can go to the facebook event page to learn more -- or see the info below.

Friday, February 26, 2010
8:00pm - 10:00pm
Joe Crowley Student Union Theater

GASA and Holland Project are happy to present:

Cartune Xprez brings a bundle of carefully selected short films and animated snippets by independent and emerging artists, ranging from hot up-and-comers to established filmmakers who have shown their work at the NYMOMA and Sundance Film Festival.

Portland, OR band Hooliganship will be in tow to provide a live (and lively) performance of their newest cartoon theater, a mash-up of video projections and audio arpeggios fit for art fans and dancing feet.

The program begins at 8 p.m. Entry is $5 for general public, and $3 for students with valid I.D.

Here's the trailer for CX's last DVD:

And here's a clip of Hooliganship in action:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chris Ware review online

A little while ago I wrote a post about a couple articles I'd recently had published in the Comics Journal. One of the articles, a review of Chris Ware's "Acme Novelty Library #19," was in the print version of the Journal -- they migrated it online, so if you want to check out my take on one of the best graphic novels of 2009, you can see it here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Infrastructure Alert

Instructor Rick Parsons installed his latest gallery show this past weekend:

Image: Haight & Masonic, 2010
36” x 60” latex paint on tar paper

Tar Paper Paintings
by Rick Parsons
at Santa Clara University
Department of Art & Art History

February 16 – March 19, 2010
Reception February 24, 5:00 - 7:00 PM

Art Department Gallery
Gallery Hours 9-5 M-F

If you have a disability and require reasonable accommodation
please contact 408-554-5483

Below are some pics he took. Looking at them I was reminded of a scene from the documentary "Crumb," about cartoonist R. Crumb. Crumb has an anthropologist's eye for all the urban/suburban visual clutter that we mentally edit out of our vision -- the powerlines and various metallic doohickeys that cluster like barnacles on utility poles. He gathers photographic reference for them, because he finds them impossible to draw from memory. They're ubiquitous, but they most likely exist in your mind's eye as a sort of vague, lumpy blur. Unless you're a utility worker -- or unless you're Rick.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

GoPro or Go Home!

I have been searching around for an all purpose video camera that will get the job done! I was looking for a camera that I could use for a variety of things; including ski filming, video projects for school, animation projects, and obviously recording random life occurrences that will pile up on youtube and never be watched. After a bit of research, I was stoked to come across this mini treasure loaded with perks.

The camera itself is called the HD Hero which is made by the company GoPro. Its a super compact, high definition, (1080p) SDCH flash memory, video camera. The camera itself is tiny considering it has a battery, memory card slot, LCD screen, and 170 degree wide angle lens all in one small unit. The fully waterproof housing for the camera allows you to mount it in a ton of different places. This video camera also doubles as a 5 MP still shot camera. One of the modes lets you shoot in timed intervals, making time-lapses too easy.

There are a couple of quick edits that my friends and I put together with my GoPro along with the link to the web-site for more info and sample videos. This guy is awesome!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Self-Portrait As Everybody Else

In catching up with events towards the end of last semester, I can't leave out Alejandra Rubio's BFA show, "Unfiltered." I was glad to have Alex in my Advanced Studio class while she was working on the show. She's a little bit guarded about talking about her work, and I appreciated being able to listen to her think through her choices over a course of months.

In her photos we see people at parties, people at home, people on the street, people hanging out, people shooting up, people at work, people in masks, people clasped to each other in friendship, love, or coital imperative. She arranged her photos in irregular clusters, letting the viewer's eye bounce from one image to another, free to compare and contrast. You can skip, for example, from a woman in a dusty gas mask at Burning Man to a girl wearing a rubber halloween mask in a department store-- or you can compare the long horizontal stretch of a graveyard to an arm outstretched for its needle (I know this last comparison sounds tendentious, but that's not how the pictures operate; in practice, those two images reach out to each other in formal terms, not propagandistic ones).

Alex didn't really ant to dig too deep into explaining her organizing principles behind these clusters. I think that's partly because she works instinctively, partly because she doesn't want to flatten out all the connections with a tidy thesis statement. In her artist talk, she put it like this: "As individuals, we don't like to be categorized, so I don't like to categorize my photos."

Several photos were taken at the Bunny Ranch -- Alex went there many times over a period of months, with the intent of capturing the working girls as they are "offstage," in their place of employment, not directly engaged in the theater of other people's desires. Her quest for the authentic (reflected in her title for the show) was complicated by the circumstances of the Bunny Ranch. Sometime when she asked the women to just act natural or to be themselves, they fell into stereotyped poses: the camera, in that world, is something that demands performance. Some of those "posed" photos made the final cut, though the way they're handled, they're not particularly glamorous or pornographic. We're not just aware of the pose, we're aware of the effort that goes into engineering a pose. Alex's camera-eye is aware of a certain tired slump of the shoulders, the insistence of a ribcage visible under the skin, the scuffs on the toes of feet that have been forced into shoes that are a bit too small.

Though she's going for the raw, the "non-glossy" in her photos, there's a warmth to her work. Her images are documentary images, but they're documents from the inside of a situation. She's interested in, as she put it in her talk, "people in their natural habitat." When asked if the pictures formed a picture of a community, she wasn't quite satisfied by that definition. "I would like to say it's a self portrait," she clarified. "Everything that's in that room, that's me."

The work may be a self-portrait, an autobiography by indirect means, but it's also more than that, delineated as it is by windows into a variety of other lives, other worlds. There are a number of communities that show up in her flow of images, ones that might only rarely brush up against each other under ordinary circumstances. Many people in the photos showed up for the reception, and there was a funny double-vision of images and lives, corralled into the same space, because Alex's vision had placed them all there.

All the pictures have stories of course (all pictures have stories). But a lot of these stories are particularly good ones. I like the one behind a shot of a police officer, taking a photo of Alex taking a photo of him. The officer wasn't taking a friendly snapshot, he was "documenting" Alex because he deemed her suspicious. Alex took her pic surreptitiously, her camera at waist level. Behind the photo that we can see, there's the invisible flipped version, languishing in an official capacity in the files of the police department, showing Alex with her sly finger on the shutter button. It's easy to imagine a certain gleam in her eye, in that invisible document.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Of Prospectives and Pig Bladders

I'm still catching up on activities that happened towards the end of last semester or over the break; one of the highlights of that period for me was the Prospectives 09 festival, a digital arts festival organized by Joseph DeLappe, a Professor of Digital Art at UNR.

I wrote a review of a portion of the festival for Rhizome -- specifically, an exhibit hosted at UNR's Sheppard Gallery. Here's a quote:

It seemed there was a common desire to enlist the spectator as a participant. Open until December 16, 2009, the works included in the show involved a fair amount of “play,” but the artists seemed attuned to the complexities involved with the interaction between machine and participant, thus it’s play inflected with critique.

I didn't have room to cover the performance aspect of the festival, a cluster of multimedia pieces presented at the Nevada Museum of Art. The performances were worthy of a write-up in themselves, though at this point I only have a couple fugitive notes to offer. Below are two photos Joseph sent me. The first shows Stephanie Lie's Vibrating Milk, in which a camera trained on a drum head covered with milk sent a live feed to the big movie screen in the NMA's Wayne and Miriam Prim Theater. Modulated sound got the drum head vibrating, and the milk was perturbed into a variety of shimmering patterns -- on the big screen, we were treated to a mix of a constantly-shifting abstract expressionist painting, and a 60s psychedelia rock show backdrop.

The second photo is of Natalia Jaeger's Miranda. Jaeger offered the audience bananas, and then invited the audience to watch a clip of Carmen Miranda projected on her underwear. We watched the Busby Berkely-choreographed dancers navigate their giant bananas through their geometric progressions (even without the upskirt proscenium, it would be impossible to miss the phallic implications of a bevy of female dancers wielding massive bananas. But it was still a bit of a revelation to see the bananas, at one point -- as they were ranged into a circular bullseye -- suddenly become teeth in a canary vagina dentata). And while we watched, Jaeger regarded the audience with eyes of dull malice, slowly chewing the heads off a small bouquet of flowers.

Nor did I have space, in the Rhizome review, to elaborate on the swarm of flying pig bladders that were set whirling in the air above the UNR campus one evening. They were the work of Doo-Sung Yoo, who has created a variety of pieces that meld robotics with animal parts.

(first pic courtesy of Joe, the others are mine)

I actually caught the outdoor installation by accident, on my way to an unrelated dance performance at UNR. After the dance, on my way through the Church Fine Arts Building at UNR, I came across a cluster of the pig bladder balloons corralled at the end of an empty hallway, quietly jostling each other, unattended. It was gratifyingly eerie.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Public Service Announcement from Thomas Grana

I have noticed a recent spike in the number of flu-ridden students at Sierra Nevada College. I am currently suffering from the current sinus headache and accompanying sore throat that seems to be ever prevalent around campus. I normally find the common flu avoidable if you take the correct steps to staying healthy and avoiding germs. My well being starts at my residence. I like to keep a clean room and clean common area in the house. If you have a germ free living space you are eliminating the risk of sleeping and cooking in an unsanitary environment. Cleaning up after yourself is an easy way to keep germ levels at a minimum! When your immune system is fighting flu or illness, it is especially important to help it out. Wash your hands frequently and consume plenty of vitamin C.

I find that even when I am healthy, the best way to stay healthy is to monitor what you eat. Obviously my health is not completely dependent on the food I eat, but it plays a huge role in my mood and my energy levels. I like to make sure that I'm not hungry for my classes. An easy way to avoid this is to stock up on your favorite nutrition bar and any sort of juice. I am a personal fan of the honey bunches of oats and Naked Juice combo. Between the two you get enough energy and plenty of nutrients to get you through those intense lectures and long studio classes. I also try to switch it up often because if you get bored with the food you are eating, then it obviously makes eating it a lot less enjoyable.

If there is one thing I value more than snacks, it’s my love for breakfast. Some might say that their appetite does not exist in the morning, but I think that is the result of poor time management. If you schedule time for breakfast and have enough time to eat, it makes the day a lot more tolerable. Eggs and toast is one of the more simple breakfast dishes that when mastered, can only take 5 or 10 minutes. When shopping, I like to remember plenty of fruits and greens to help keep me alert and focused. I try to stay away from anything that is processed or fried, but every once and a while, it doesn't hurt. Diet, plenty of sleep, and regular exercise, keeps me energized and ready for class.

My father once told me, "We must live to eat; not eat to live." More often than not, I think of this quote when eating. It also helps me remember the importance of food.